house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

My Scot

'Don't you dare use ME in the campaign' he says.

What does he expect? I write stuff. I'm married to the story-of-the-day. And he's telling me to shut up?

I am using my Scot in the campaign for Scotland.

The debate over Scotland has gone on for long enough - everything that could be said, was said. The arguments grew and matured, unwound and rewound. We are getting latest updates, syntheses, analyses, mind-maps, deep last-minute remarks. The battlefield is ready. Less than 24 hours until Scotland decides.

And all I have is a blog, an undecided Scot and a scene from 24 years ago.

It was June 1990 and I knew shamefully little about Scotland. I was working at the British Library in Bucharest, stacking books on shelves. The Scot walked in, had a brief chat with my boss and I got the job of translating for him. For the rest of the day, trailing from one meeting to another, I made the same, unforgivable mistake: I introduced him as 'English'. People called him 'the Englishman' and asked about 'England' to make him feel good.

'How would I know? I'm a Scot', he would reply with a smile that could cleave a buffalo in two. His blood boiled. His eyes, if even possible, became more blue. 'English', people would call him in polite conversation, and 'Scottish' he hissed, 'Scottish' he said, 'Scottish' he  shouted. I had no idea what his name was, but grew amply aware THAT. HE. WAS. SCOTTISH. Somehow it mattered more.

'Do you realise Scotland is a different country?' he pinned me to a tree and whispered in my face. And me, thinking he was going to kiss me.

I got the message, went back to school, studied Scottish identity, wrote my thesis on it, then married my Scot and made Scotland home. I've always taken homework seriously.

...which is why I feel today like pinning him to the nearest tree to whisper back, in his own words:

'Do you realise Scotland is a different country?' 


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